Mama and Podo Helmer

When I got up at five o’clock this morning to put a hungry baby in bed with me her little feet were cold. She hates socks and kicks them off in the night. I wedged them between my warm thighs and remembered my mama doing this same thing for me.

Today is Mama’s birthday. She is one of my best and closest friends. I think you are lucky indeed if you can say that about your mother. Despite how much she is loved and preferred by our baby Helen, I know this has still been one of the hardest, saddest years of her life so far, and I don’t have much to give her today, but this piece below and a prayer that she will walk over her beloved bit of earth today and take a little joy.


My mother is an avid gardener and when my sister and I were teenagers she started the Weed and Read Program, in which one of us would read to the other two while they weeded. We loved it so much that we would look for places to weed just to finish a chapter, and would carry it into other work, like folding laundry and shelling peas. We read so many books together this way, but among our favorites were David Copperfield and The Dean’s Watch, by Elizabeth Goudge.

But the first in the The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson was the beginning of these Weed and Read books, and as we waited eagerly for each new book to be written, my sister and I grew up alongside Andrew’s storytelling, as they became more deep and meaningful, coming to our hearts at the perfect most tender time for the telling.

In this series, there is a character named Podo Helmer, the lovable ex-pirate grandfather. In book two his grandchildren learn that when he was younger he murdered innocent lives for profit, something he had ashamedly kept secret from them. There is a hard consequence for Podo in the story, but then there is this simple, beautiful line

“He moved through the days in peace and wonder, for his whole story had been told for the first time, and he found that he was still loved. ”

It was around this time that my mama came to my sister and me while we were in the greenhouse one day. We sat down on the stone steps, and she told us something very wrong that she had done many years ago. We cried together. She was in pain remembering. It had been burdening her heart to tell us, not because she still carried the guilt, but because she wanted us to know her truly and to know what God had saved her from.

Have you ever considered how much easier it is to confess the ways we have been hurt and wronged by others, than it is to confess the ways we have hurt others and been wrong? But looking back now I can see that, as a mother, but really as any sort of friend, that last confession is the best. Grace is given to the humble, and like Podo, Mama moves through her days in peace and wonder, too.

Of course, this isn’t an unbroken state. Life is as hard as it gets right now. I remember that quote from The Horse and His Boy (a book she read to me as a child) about sometimes the reward of one good deed is to do another and harder and better one. And so I suppose perhaps this means sometimes our biggest giants are fought when we are old and tired and worn out.

But today, dear Mama, when you laugh at Helen’s raspberries or as you piece together the puzzle with your own mama, as you feed your chickens and sweep your floor, as the weight comes down and tightens on your chest and as you wrestle with Christ’s words about his yoke being easy and light, believing it to be true regardless of how you feel, know you are known and loved even by your friends on earth and “be at peace now and let the tide carry you into calm water. That is all you have to do for the moment. God bless you.” ― Elizabeth Goudge, The Dean’s Watch

One thought on “Mama and Podo Helmer

  1. Sarah,

    This is beautiful. I think there are many similarities between your momma and mine, just from the little you’ve shared. I hope she takes joy from your piece today, just as you intended.

    Happy writing, and always keep on,


    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s